With 2014's Midnight Passenger, Ex-Cult made the kind of aggressively powerful album punk bands have been shooting for since around 1975 or so, then followed it up with Cigarette Machine, an EP that further cemented their place in the modern punk forefront. Led by Chris Shaw's biting vocals and the twin-guitar attack of J.B. Horrell and Alec McIntyre, the band set the bar really high for anything that came after. Well, there's no letdown on album three, and Negative Growth jumps right over that bar like it was nothing much at all. Working again with Ty Segall at the controls, the album is just as much a rampaging monster of noise, motion, and raw power as its predecessor was. On the shorter, more violent tracks, Shaw's vocals slash and shout through the windmilling guitars, the rhythm section pushes things forward as if punching through a brick wall, and the energy level is set to stun. Songs like "Let You In," "Dogs Roll In," and the brutal "Hollywood Heat Seeker" have a motor that won't quit, and when they cut the throttle some, the music still fairly drips with feverish sweat. The album-ending "New Face On," which features some very Stooge-y sax from Mikal Cronin, is a prime example that Ex-Cult don't have to plow over everyone in sight every time; that they can play with a little bit of restraint and still be exciting. There's no doubt that Ex-Cult have nailed their sound down just about perfectly for the second album in a row, making another tightly focused, almost overpowering album that any self-respecting modern punk needs to know about.
|Label:||In The Red Records|